The Tequesquite, Bell and CS

The Tequesquite, Bell and CS

After spending a lifetime on some of the West’s most historic ranches, prominent rancher Linda Davis reminisces.

Tequesquite ranch horse holds a herd of Hererford cattle (Credit: courtesy of American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame)

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Compiled by Andrea Caudill 

Linda Davis was born in New Mexico in 1930, and her life has been entwined in the very fabric of AQHA. Her father, Albert Mitchell, is the Association’s only four-time president and was one of the most influential men in the Association’s history. Linda’s mom died when Linda was 4, and her father and grandmother raised her and her brothers on the Tequesquite Ranch at Albert, which is being recognized in the Journal this year as an 80-year breeder. In 1953, Linda married Les Davis and moved to the CS Cattle Co., which has land around Cimarron. The ranch, founded in 1873, is 110,000 acres in the northeast corner of New Mexico, raising cattle and horses to work them. In 2000, the CS was awarded the AQHA Best Remuda Award for its legendary horses. Today, Linda’s family continues to manage the ranch. Even today at age 87, Linda works on the ranch and also volunteers as an EMT with the Cimarron Volunteer Ambulance Service.  

Here, she reminisces about some of her many memories.  

The Tequesquite 

Tequesquite (TEK-a-skeet) is the Spanish-Indian word for alkali along the creek. When it dries up, it’s white. It’s between Logan and Mosquero.  

My great-grandfather came West because he had tuberculosis. He was cured and settled in Albert, New Mexico, which was named after my great-uncle who was killed in a night-herding accident.  

My great-grandfather homesteaded and his two daughters got their own little claim. They started putting the ranch together there right after the Civil War in 1864. I was there and was raised down there in the valley. There were a lot of good horses.  

My dad ran the Bell (Ranch) for years. He had his own place (Tequesquite) and ran the Bell. The Bell was owned by a group of eastern owners. The man who was running it was a retired British Army officer. As he got older and had more health problems, the only person he’d allow around to consult with or talk to was my dad. My dad ran the Bell from about 1930 until 1947.   

He was involved in so many things then. I have two nephews and a niece, Lynn Mitchell Ray, who are on the home ranch. I have a third nephew who is a district judge in Tucumcari. Lynn is a horsewoman. She’s quite a hand. She has kept the tradition of good horses going on the Tequesquite Ranch.  

Ranch Schooling 

My dad took me to the Bell Ranch and told the crew, “Here she is.” I rode with the crew. I could ride like a monkey from the time I can remember. I pretty much was raised by a cow crew.   

Being the only female around, I started pretty darn young cooking and helping. “Well, you’re a girl, so you can get lunch on.”  

A great bunch of guys taught me to read. When I had to go to school, I could read. I always said that every single one of the cowboys had a copy of a ranch romance. It was a little paper folded thing like a comic, but it was to read. It had nice big print and decent language. Every cowboy had a different issue in his bedroll. They’d pass these around in the evening and read to me. They taught me to read when I was 4 years old. I said it was the best bunch of teachers you could’ve ever been raised by. 

They didn’t worry about anything. To cut my hair, they put a bowl on my head and would take the sheep shears and go around, and away we’d go. My dad had his hands full during the war years, raising his family and running two big ranches. I give him a lot of credit – he stepped up to the plate and raised us.  

When I got school age, I ended up getting tutored at the ranch through the sixth grade – Calvert School came out of Baltimore, Maryland; it was for missionary children. I could do two days of school in half a day. I was the only pupil, so you can get through a correspondence course pretty quick. I had a lady, who was my dad’s housekeeper, who would help me with the correspondence kind of thing. Then I could work cattle the rest of the time.  

The CS 

My husband, Les, was Frank Springer’s grandson. Frank Springer was the founder of the CS Ranch.  

He came out here in 1873 and arrived the 21st of February in Cimarron by stagecoach. He was a land-grant lawyer. The Maxwell Land Grant hired him to try to sell the grant. Maxwell had bought it from his wife’s family. The Beaubien-Miranda Spanish Land Grant was what all this country was and had been granted by the king of Spain to the Beaubien-Miranda family. The Beaubiens and Mirandas were married to two sisters, so it was a pretty close family thing. Then Lucian Maxwell married Luz Beaubien when she was 12 years old. Then he went on to California with the cavalry, where he and Kit Carson were the guides. He married her in the morning and told her he’d be back in four years. He came back when she was 16, and it was apparently a very happy marriage.  

Frank Springer was born and raised in Iowa. He came out here, married and raised a family. He had four daughters and three sons. None of the sons had any children. One died in the flu epidemic right after the first World War – he went to Denver to buy bulls and died up there. Then the brother was a World War I pilot. Those airplanes were matchsticks and glazed paper put together – it was something – and he died in a plane crash. The oldest son was Ed Springer, and he didn’t marry until he was in his 60s.   

My husband’s mother was the youngest of the four daughters, and she’s the only one who ever had much of a family. She had four boys. Les’ father was chief of surgery at Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia.  

herd of American Quarter Horses line up to eat
Modern CS Ranch horses (Credit: Andrea Caudill)
close up of spurs and well-worn cowboy boots bearing the CS Ranch brand on the boot tops
Linda's daughter wears a a pair of boots bearing the CS Ranch brand. (Credit: Andrea Caudill)

Les Davis 

Les was raised back East, but he loved the ranch. He graduated pre-med from Dartmouth in 1941 and told his dad, “I’m going to go spend six months in New Mexico on the ranch. I’ve done nothing but school. I want to go out with Uncle Ed. Somebody in the family has to try to keep it going. I’m the only one who's interested. I’d like to learn a little bit about it.”  

He came west in the summer of ’41. Loved every minute of it and worked with the cowboys. He knew a lot of the people from being out in the summer.  

Pearl Harbor came along December 7, 1941, and he had a commission as a reserve officer. He left the first day of January with the commissioned officers. Most of them graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute – a bus full, headed to Fort Sill in Oklahoma. He didn’t come back until 1947.  

He went across Europe. He was the lead tank in Patton’s third army, fourth armored. Lead tank for the unit. The fourth armored was the unit that broke the back of the Germans at Bastogne on Christmas Eve 1944. Les said he was the luckiest man alive.  

He said after all that going across Europe and going through all that, when he came back in ’46, he told his dad, “I’m not going to medical school. I’m going to the ranch in New Mexico.”  

We started going together in ’47, and I was still in high school. My dad said I had to go to college. He said, “You’ve never looked at anybody but Les.” I met him in ’41 and thought he was cute, but I was just a kid! And he had just graduated from Dartmouth. By ’47, he and I went together, and I went to Cornell. We got married in ’53. We ended up with six children. They’re all involved in the ranching operation. Five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren right now.  

black and white photo of Les and Linda Davis
Les and Linda Davis (Credit: courtesy of Davis family)

We lost Les in 2001. The last big event he made was when we got the (AQHA) Best Remuda Award in 2000. We took him to Amarillo (for the ceremony), and everybody was mounted except Jigs Porter (the legendary cattleman who worked for the CS for 76 years) and Les. They took them in in a golf cart to the arena.  

That’s the story.   

black and white photo of Linda Davis riding a colt
Linda rides a CS Ranch colt. (Credit: courtesy of Davis family)
Linda Davis, center, surrounded by family
Linda, center, and family (Credit: Andrea Caudill)


More Ranching History From Linda Davis

Continue reading this series:

Ranching Traditions
Linda Davis of AQHA Best Remuda Award Winner CS Ranch recalls life on a cattle ranch in the 1930s and ’40s.

AQHA History: Building America’s Horse
How the American Quarter Horse breed came to be, as told by Linda Davis, the daughter of one of the most influential men in AQHA history.